We are in the thick of picnic season, hiking season, camping season and coolers-on-the-beach season. In other words, it’s a time when you need foods that travel well, and fit conveniently into ziplock bags or wrap up nicely in some foil. You’ll likely be making plenty of sandwiches this summer. The sandwich is a funny food: it’s one of those items where you really can’t say for certain if it’s unhealthy or healthy. It’s all about how you make it. While it’s tempting to get lazy and stick to classic like bologna, mayonnaise and slices of cheese, it may be time to upgrade your sandwich…make it more mature…elevate it to your sophisticated palate. Okay, you know where this is going: we need to find a way to cut the calories out of this typically carbo-loaded, cheese-spread food. Here’s a look at some skinny sandwich swaps you can make this summer.
Have you heard of Knackerbrod?
Opting for an open face sandwich clearly cuts your bread intake in half. But most soft bread cannot support the contents of your sandwich, with just one slice. Introducing Knackerbrod—a traditional Swedish bread that is more like a cracker, and can hold all your contents in an open face sandwich. Plus, it is loaded with fiber and low in calories.
Make a Mexican-style sandwich
Instead of packing your sandwich ingredients between two slices of bread, why not pack them inside of a whole wheat tortilla? All of the classics like BLTs and Club’s taste just as good in this lower-carb, higher fiber option.
Make a sandwich salad
Rather than limit your veggies to what you can fit inside of a sandwich, why not just make a giant salad, cut your favorite bread into four triangles, and place them on the top of the salad. Then you could load a few veggies onto the bread with your fork, and guarantee you consume more greens.
Use avocado as your mayo
If you crave creaminess on your sandwiches, you could go for low-fat mayonnaise, but it tends to include some unfortunate chemicals. Or you could spread mashed avocado on your sandwich. If you’d like, you can blend half avocado, half light mayonnaise. You’ll add healthy fats and fiber to your sandwich with this swap.
Or use Tzatziki instead of mayo
Tzatziki is so flavorful it may be the only condiment you need to add to your sandwich. Made with strained yogurt, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, chopped cucumbers, salt and olive oil, it packs a lot of flavor with far fewer calories than mayonnaise.
Use salsa instead of ketchup
If you like a little tomato flavor in your sandwich, ditch the ketchup and add salsa. Whether you go chunky or hot, you’ll get some nutrition points for eating real tomatoes and you’ll cut out all of the sugar from the ketchup.
Trade pickles for cucumbers
If you purchase the right brand of pickles, they may contain zero calories. But pickles still have a lot of sodium and that sodium makes you reach for—you guessed it—soda! Swap out your pickles for sliced cucumbers. You’ll still get plenty of crunch in your sandwich.
Scoop out the bread
If you absolutely must have your sliced white bread, or your hoagie rolls—devoid of nutrients entirely—you can still make it work. Just be sure to scoop some of the bread out of these. That also makes more room for your healthy filling like cucumber slices and salsa.
Use veggie patties as your buns
If you want some seriously nutritious “buns,” reach for veggie patties instead. There are some rather substantial ones made with brown rice and quinoa that can easily contain sandwich fillings. These can add a lot of fiber and protein to your meal—so much so that you won’t need a second sandwich.
Chunks instead of salad
Chunks of tuna, chunks of chicken, chunks of ham—whatever your meat of choice is, just don’t get the “salad” version. That means it will be blended with a lot of mayonnaise, and possibly salt. Add simple chicken breast, or tuna from the can, or slices of ham to your sandwich.
Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese
Cream cheese has few redeeming qualities in the nutrition department, but Greek yogurt is a star. Boasting protein and calcium, this is what you should be adding to your smoked salmon sandwich. It will still add that refreshing creaminess that cream cheese does.
Mascarpone instead of cream cheese
If you don’t like Greek yogurt, you can try adding Mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese. That way, you still technically get to add some sort of soft cheese to your bread, but with fewer calories.
Whole wheat flax seed tortilla chips
You need a side with your sandwich, don’t you? But instead of grabbing those kettle chips or even those baked chips, try some whole wheat flax seed tortilla chips (available at Trader Joe’s and similar stores). Packed with omega-3s and fiber, these chips will fill you up with just a few triangles.
Add balsamic for flavor
Rather than adding sugary barbecue sauce or any other bottled spread to your sandwich, drizzle balsamic on. This brings a big flavor punch with just 14 calories per tablespoon. Vinegar can also help curb your appetite.
Tempeh bacon in your BLT
If you’re all about the BLTs then your doctor will be all over you for your cholesterol levels by the end of the summer. Try using tempeh bacon instead of pork bacon. It tastes just as good and, besides, by the time you add your lettuce and tomato, you won’t even notice the difference.